The role of impact assessment
Impact Assessments may be of particular use in advocacy efforts. Such assessments may consider the costs and benefits of proposed policies. Competition Assessment Toolkits, such as that produced by the OECD, provide handy guidelines and checklists. Moreover they provide the analytical framework that regulators and legislators need to use to produce less competition-restrictive policies. The following issues have a particular bearing on the likely success of advocacy efforts:
Timing: The earlier an agency can engage in a policy making process to bring to bear their competition analytical toolkit the more likely they are to succeed in ensuring policies are competition-friendly.
Initiative: Some authorities may only conduct studies or make recommendations when requested by the relevant Ministry and cannot decide on their own to make the contents of their reports public or to pressure for their recommendations to be taken into account.
Access: Access to policymakers and their community of influence is key to making progress in any particular policy process.
Non-binding opinions: Opinions and recommendations made by agencies are frequently non-binding. While ministries and regulators can choose to ignore them the frequency and strength with which the agency makes representations will increase the political costs of their being ignored.
Multi-faceted policymaking: The dispersed nature of policymaking make influencing processes complex. Creating a track-record in helpful and robust interventions will create a climate in which agency influence can increase.